The American Academy in Rome honored curator Cecilia Alemani and the filmmaker and producer Matteo Garrone at the sixteenth McKim Medal Gala at the Villa Aurelia in Rome on June 8. The annual benefit, one of the highest-profile cultural events of the season, recognized the achievements of exceptional individuals in the arts, culture, and humanities. The event raised over $600,000 to support the Academy’s fellowships, which include fellowships for Italian artists and scholars. Maria Teresa Venturini Fendi also announced the establishment of the Carla Fendi Rome Prize in honor of Carla Fendi. The inaugural winner of the visual arts prize is Tony Cokes.
This year’s sold-out Gala was chaired by Margherita Marenghi Vaselli. Luminaries in the arts and humanities from Italy and the United States gathered at the historic Villa Aurelia to celebrate creative and intellectual dialogue across national boundaries. Honorary Chairs for the evening were Ginevra Elkann and Maria Teresa Venturini Fendi, as well as Founding Gala Chair Verdella Caracciolo de Benedictis.
“We are delighted to honor Cecilia Alemani and Matteo Garrone with this year’s McKim Medal,” said Mark Robbins, AAR President and CEO. “Through curating and filmmaking, they each bring complex narratives to light, expanding our understanding of the world in which we live.”
“The American Academy in Rome’s fellowships have become an invaluable opportunity for international artists and scholars to engage in independent research and art-making while forging deep cultural connections between Italy and the United States and the broader world,” said Gala Chair Margherita Marenghi Vaselli. “I’m thrilled to chair this important event to support fellowships at the Academy.”
Cecilia Alemani is an Italian curator based in New York. Currently, she is the Artistic Director of the 59th Venice Biennale. Since 2011, she has been the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art, the public art program presented by the High Line in New York City. Alongside her commitments at the High Line, she served as Artistic Director of the inaugural edition of Art Basel Cities: Buenos Aires in 2018 and was Curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Over the past ten years, Alemani has developed an expertise in commissioning and producing ambitious artworks for public and unusual spaces. During her tenure at the High Line, she has commissioned major projects by El Anatsui, Phyllida Barlow, Carol Bove, Sheila Hicks, Rashid Johnson, Barbara Kruger, Zoe Leonard, Faith Ringgold, Ed Ruscha, Nari Ward, and Adrián Villar Rojas, among others. Through these public initiatives, Alemani has sought meaningful civic engagement by galvanizing dialogue, awareness, and a sense of possibility. Her medal was presented by Adam Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
An Italian filmmaker born in Rome, Matteo Garrone twice won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival: first in 2008 for Gomorrah, an adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s best-selling novel of the same name (nominated also for the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Cesar for Best Foreign Film); then in 2012 for Reality, an Italian satire on the illusions of reality television. Distinctive for their singular visual force, with powerful plays on shadow and light, his works blur genres, bridging social drama, metaphysical fable, and marvelous dreams. In 2015, he returned to the Croisette in Cannes to present Tale of Tales, a disconcerting fantasy starring Vincent Cassel and Salma Hayek, followed in 2018 by the gripping, critically acclaimed drama Dogman. Most recently, the filmmaker revisited an emblematic icon, Pinocchio, with a fabulous adaptation of the children’s novel by Carlo Collodi, highlighting the timeless and unalterable essence of that myth. Garrone’s success at the Italian box office and fifteen nominations for the David di Donatello—Italy’s answer to France’s César awards—once again attest to his talent. His medal was presented by Antonio Monda, Professor of Cinema, New York University.
The primary Corporate Patron for the evening was Lottomatica, and the event’s Corporate Sponsors were Bloomberg, Chiomenti, Credit Suisse, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, Delvaux, Dior, Fendi, Fondazione Carla Fendi, Gagosian, Generali, Gianni & Origoni, Giorgio Armani, Intesa Sanpaolo, Moncler SpA, Spring Studios Srl, and Tikehau Capital. Wine for the evening was provided by Paolo e Noemia d’Amico Wines, and the prosecco was provided by FIOL. In addition to the patrons and corporate sponsors, the Academy thanks the artist Carolla Maiuri for her generous support.
The McKim Medal
The McKim Medal was established by the American Academy in Rome in 2005 as an annual prize that honors an individual whose work—most particularly in Italy and the United States—has contributed significantly to the arts and humanities. Proceeds from the McKim Gala support the American Academy in Rome’s Italian Fellows program, which provides a unique opportunity for Italian scholars and artists to live and work as part of the Academy’s dynamic international community. Previous McKim Medal laureates include Luca Guadagnino, Paola Antonelli, Roberto Benigni, Sir Anthonio Pappano, Paolo Sorrentino, Carlo Petrini, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Cy Twombly, Umberto Eco, Franco Zeffirelli, Ennio Morricone, Miuccia Prada, Luigi Ontani, Riccardo Muti, and Bernardo Bertolucci. The McKim Medal was designed by Cy Twombly and handcrafted by BVLGARI.
American Academy in Rome
Established in 1894, the American Academy in Rome is America’s oldest overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the arts and humanities. The Academy has since evolved to become a more global and diverse base for artists and scholars to live and work in Rome. The residential community includes a wide range of scholarly and artistic disciplines, which is representative of the United States and is fully engaged with Italy and contemporary international exchange. The support provided by the Academy to Rome Prize and Italian Fellows, and invited Residents, helps strengthen the arts and humanities.